Is Motorola becoming a patent troll? Microsoft seems to think so

Last week, Apple lodged a complaint against Motorola with the European Commission regarding FRAND abuse. Apple believes that Motorola is not making its standards-essentials patents available under Fair, Reasonable, and Non Discriminatory terms.

The truth is, Apple’s right. Motorola is asking the iPhone-maker for a ridiculous 2.25% of Apple’s wireless device sales in exchange for the use of its industry-standard patents. Is Motorola becoming a patent troll? Microsoft seems to think so…

Apparently, Motorola is going after Microsoft too. And like Apple, Microsoft is fighting back. Dave Heiner, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel wrote in a blog post this morning:

“Earlier today, Microsoft filed a a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google. We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards.

You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the Internet without being tied to a cable. That works because the industry came together years ago to define common technical standards that every firm can use to build compatible products for video and Wi-Fi. Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products.

Motorola has broken its promise. Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course. In legal proceedings on both sides of the Atlantic, Motorola is demanding that Microsoft take its products off the market, or else remove their standards-based ability to play video and connect wirelessly.”

FOSSPatents‘ Florian Mueller agrees:

“Since I follow MMI’s aggressive litigation and enforcement activities in Germany closely (I watch all of the related court hearings), I can see what Apple and Microsoft are complaining about. If every owner of standard-essential patents behaved like Motorola, this industry would be in chaos, and grind to a halt.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Apple and Microsoft team up together against Google — last year the two companies formed a group to outbid Google in the Nortel patent auction — and it probably won’t be the last.

Now that Google, who is already facing a number of accusations regarding antitrust practices and privacy violations, has control of Motorola and its patents, it has to make a decision. Does it continue to sue Apple and Microsoft, or does it back off? The latter seems like the smarter option, considering how deep both Apple and Microsoft’s pockets are, but we imagine Google will choose the former.

Yeah, this could get real interesting, real quick.